Years ago, when Deone Bucannon introduced himself as a “money linebacker” on Sunday Night Football, the audience had a good laugh. The term was a reference to his defensive responsibilities but conjured images in the minds of viewers of the huge game checks that Bucannon was earning at that time. Memes popped up in the following days of Bucannon on top of piles of money and gold coins. Hopefully, following the guidance given in this column will have your rosters overflowing with a wealth of IDP riches. We’ll primarily focus on edge rushers but will also hit on some of the other players and situations that are likely to impact teams in big play leagues. We will cover risers and fallers in the format, injury situations fantasy general managers need to know, and upcoming matchups to target.
Note: The defensive player injuries covered in this column are not an exhaustive list, but an attempt to cover the situations most likely to impact big play IDP squads. For more extensive coverage of injury situations, see Jene Bramel’s latest Injury Rounds column.
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Seahawks interior lineman Jarron Reed will return this week. Quinton Jefferson has played well in his absence. However, considering Reed’s talent, expect Jefferson’s playing time on the interior to drop.
With 46 sacks, defensive end Danielle Hunter broke the NFL record for most sacks by any player before turning 25 years old. Currently, he is easily the most valuable IDP in big play formats.
The Dolphins claimed defensive end, Taco Charlton, a few weeks ago after he was released by the Cowboys. The former first-round pick seems to have found a home with this regime. He is an interesting pick-up-and-hold option in dynasty big play formats.
It was nice to see Buccaneers linebacker Devin Bush back from injury and playing a full-time role. He was the most productive tackler and can be counted on by fantasy general managers going forward.
It looks like the Cincinnati coaching staff has decided to give rookie Germaine Pratt more playing time. Preston Brown’s playing time dipped and Pratt’s spiked. Grab Pratt now off the waiver wire if you can.
There appears to be a new full-time linebacker next to Todd Davis in Denver. Alexander Johnson racked up six tackles, three assists, and a sack and a half against the Titans. Do not expect that kind of production every day going forward, but Johnson is definitely worth adding.
The Chargers linebacker group continues to post variable playing time. Thomas Davis’ snap totals were back up this week, but he still remains a two-down player, essentially. We cannot trust starting any of the group right now.
Speaking of lack of trust, we currently have to place every Ravens middle linebacker in that category. With Patrick Onwasuar hurt, Josh Bynes led the group with an alarming 60% of the snaps. This is a situation to avoid presently.
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Defensive end Stephon Tuitt had been having a wonderful year. However, he appears to have torn his pectoral muscle and will likely land on injured reserve later this week.
Eagles inside linebacker Nigel Bradham hurt his ankle in week six. The Eagles deployed Nate Gerry and Zach Brown each at about 80% of the snaps. The Eagles later cut Zach Brown after the game. If Bradham cannot go next week, Gerry becomes a pretty interesting plug-and-play option against the Cowboys.
Titans inside linebacker Jayon Brown injured his groin and may be out a while. Wesley Woodyard moved into his spot and was fairly productive. We can feel confident starting Woodyard until Brown returns.
Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was knocked out of the Ravens game with a hyperextended knee and will miss about a month of action.
With Jonathan Cyprien surprisingly landing on injured reserve in the middle of last week, Kemal Ishmael is a valuable player to own, no matter if he is classified as a safety or a linebacker in your big play league. He played all the snaps in the Falcons’ loss.
The Rams got very banged up in their divisional battle this week. Cornerback Aqib Talib was placed on injured reserve with a rib injury following the game and safety John Johnson III hurt his shoulder. We are awaiting more information about Johnson’s availability for week seven.
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Buffalo Bills Pass Rushers vs. Miami Dolphins Offensive Line
Buffalo Bills Defensive Backs vs. Miami Dolphins Passing Attack
Miami is ranked near the bottom of the league in sacks allowed, averaging 4.6 a game. The Bills have not torn up the league in terms of sack numbers. However, against this weak front, they should have a very productive day. Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy, and Shaq Lawson all have better-than-normal odds at getting a sack. The defensive backs have been more effective, coming up with an interception per game. Tre'Davious White, Levi Wallace, Jordan Poyer, and Micah Hyde all could pick off Josh Rosen, who has already thrown five interceptions on the year.
Los Angeles Rams Pass Rushers vs. Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line
Los Angeles Rams Defensive Backs vs. Atlanta Falcons Passing Attack
The Rams defense has been lackluster as a unit, but look for their pass rush to hit home in this contest. The Falcons gave up an average of three sacks a game over their three most recent games. Aaron Donald, Dante Fowler Jr, and Micheal Brockers all have an elevated shot at logging one this week. Additionally, Eric Weddle, Marcus Peters, and John Johnson III (assuming he is able to play) could get an interception here
San Francisco 49ers Pass Rushers vs. Washington Offensive Line
San Francisco’s defense is rolling and Washington’s line remains one of the worst units in the league. Every team that has played them has come up with a sack this year, save the hapless Dolphins. Nick Bosa is a must-start this week. DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Dee Ford all get a bump up in terms of the possibility of generating a big play.
San Diego Chargers Pass Rushers vs.. Tennessee Titans Offensive Line
Whether Mariota or Tannehill is at the helm this week, this offensive scheme and line has problems that will not be fixed by a simple quarterback change. The Titans are averaging a whopping 4.8 sacks per game and gave up seven to a not-very-good Denver Broncos pass rush. Joey Bosa is a must-start. If Melvin Ingram III is back from his hamstring strain, he is also worth considering in this contest.
Jaguars Pass Rushers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Line
The Bengals have been giving out sacks like Halloween candy, surrendering 3.7 sacks per game. That bodes well for the Jaguars, who are desperate to get a win to stay in the divisional race. Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Cambell, and Josh Allen are all startable options in formats in which two or more defensive ends must be utilized.
Tennessee Titans Defensive Backs vs. San Diego Chargers Passing Attack
As poorly as the Titans offense has played, the defensive unit has been stiff, allowing less than 20 points per game. The defense has also come up with an interception per game on average. Pair that with the fact that Phillip Rivers has been turning over the football once a game on average and that makes it likely one of Kevin Byard, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, or Adoree' Jackson will get one here.
Arizona Cardinals Defensive Backs vs. New York Giants Passing Attack
The Cardinals are not a regular visitor to this column, but this week they have a good shot at coming up with a pick. Daniel Jones is starting to unravel and is showing more vulnerability in his decision-making when under pressure. Budda Baker, Byron Murphy, and Patrick Peterson stand a chance of coming up with a turnover in this contest.
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Philadelphia Eagles Pass Rushers vs. Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line
Dallas Cowboys Pass Rushers vs. Philadelphia Eagles Offensive Line
This divisional battle could be a stalemate in terms of giving up sacks. Both lines are within the top seven in terms of pressure and sacks allowed. While it is hard to sit Demarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Dereck Barnett, general managers should consider it if they have better options available.
Green Bay Packers Defensive Backs vs. Oakland Raiders Passing Attack
Green Bay has come up with seven aerial turnovers on the year, but we may not want to bank on that against the Raiders. Derek Carr has been more responsible with the football this year, throwing only three interceptions on the year. Adrian Amos, Jaire Alexander, and Tramon Williams are probably still worth playing from a tackles standpoint, but do not count on any of the three coming up with interceptions.